Lee Ellen Martin, a fund-raising consultant and former associate director of the Lexington Children's Museum, has been named interim executive director of the museum, now called Explorium of Lexington.
At a meeting Thursday night at the Explorium, the museum's board of directors voted 6-1 to approve the hiring. Two board members, including president Kyle Lake, abstained. Three board members, two of whom are on inactive status, were not at the meeting.
After naming Martin, wife of Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council member Doug Martin, to the interim post, the board went into closed session. Just after the meeting was reopened, the board voted to terminate immediately executive director Michael Gilmore, who planned to resign effective April 29. That vote was 6-2, with Lake abstaining.
Gilmore, who was asked to remain in the room during the closed session, left with several board members after the vote. Some of those board members returned to the room with Gilmore's Explorium keys, and there was talk of changing a computer password. Gilmore did not return.
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Later, some board members left the meeting room to call Lee Ellen Martin to tell her of the vote and apparently to make sure of her acceptance of the interim position.
Board member Tim Davis, chairman of the transition committee, said the committee solicited potential interim executive director candidates' names from people in the community.
Board vice president Sarah Razor said the fact that Martin had worked at the museum previously put her "head and shoulders above the rest."
Razor said Martin had indicated there would be no conflict of interest with her being in the interim position because her husband would not vote on council issues pertaining to the museum.
In a proposal submitted to transition committee members, Martin said she would work 60 hours a month for $4,500, a rate of $75 an hour or $54,000 a year. Any hours over 60 also would be $75 an hour. She said she would not work more than 60 hours a month without authorization.
Gilmore was paid about $54,600 last year.
"I am excited at the prospect of 'coming home' to the Explorium," Martin said in her proposal. "I cherished my time there in the early 1990s and look forward to helping you shape the future of this wonderful organization."
Davis said the transition committee hoped to recommend a permanent executive director at the board's June meeting.
Gilmore submitted his resignation, to be effective April 29, in late January. His wife, Susan, who did marketing work for the museum, also resigned.
The Explorium has been facing several problems recently.
Last week, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray wrote to Lake, the board president, requesting a letter about issues facing the museum and corrective actions being taken, as well as a meeting to discuss those things. The mayor said in his letter that a Herald-Leader article had "raised considerable concern about the organization's personnel practices, board membership, nepotism, adherence to open-meetings laws, funds due to the government and general operational issues."
Several members of the board responded to the mayor's letter earlier this week, saying in their letter that they were dedicated to "aggressively and transparently resolving any challenge that the Explorium encounters."
The Explorium board and city officials have been working together to resolve a financial problem. According to Susan Straub, the mayor's spokeswoman, the museum owes the local government $291,000. She said the museum's account with the city has been frozen, making the amount still owed $194,000.
A computerized accounting program that was not fully operational from July 2006 to June 2007 played a role in the city providing more money for the museum than had been budgeted, she said. The city processed the Explorium's bills at the time. The city stopped handling the Explorium's bills in June 2009, according to Straub.